Eating seasonally is something Americans are largely unaware of. We go to the grocery store and find rows and rows of fresh produce from all over the world. Strawberries, asparagus, and tomatoes are available year ’round, instead of only in the spring. While this seems normal, in the larger history of humans and food, this is actually abnormal. For centuries, people ate locally-grown foods in season and preserved as much as they could for the cold months.
While eating seasonally isn’t truly necessary anymore – after all, we can easily find strawberries in the grocery store in January – the fact is, out-of-season produce doesn’t taste as good. It’s almost a sure bet that tomatoes bought in February are going to be bland and flavorless. So why eat something that’s not good?
Recycla’s family isn’t perfect and they don’t eat 100% seasonally, but they do what they can. They have a nice kitchen garden just steps from their back door and they eat from it for much of the year, starting with asparagus and strawberries in April and continuing on to tomatoes, peppers, and more all summer and into the fall. And their herb garden produces year ’round.
Recycla preserves some extras – either from the garden or from local sources, including the farmers’ market. This may sound like a lot of work but actually isn’t. She’s just now finishing off the cherries she froze last summer, but still has plenty of basil paste in the freezer. Recycla still buys produce at the grocery store, but she stays away from some things, like the aforementioned flavorless out of season strawberries, asparagus, and tomatoes.
While some people do try to be perfect, the reality is that it’s hard to eat 100% seasonally. The important thing is to do what you can. (But don’t skip all fruits and vegetables; you don’t want to develop scurvy.) Give it a try this week: When you’re at the store, don’t pick up that pack of strawberries or succumb to the lure of Mexican asparagus. Instead, see what you can find. Luckily, it’s spring, so lots of wonderful fruits and veggies are coming down the pike.
Tell the Eco Women: Do you eat seasonally? What fruit are vegetable are you waiting impatiently for? (For Recycla, it’s asparagus. Just a few more weeks…)